As the state of Maryland has an abundance of freshwater, bay areas and the possibility of ocean fishing the regulations that concern this activity refer to both tidal and nontidal waters.



There are also several types of fishing licenses you can apply for in Maryland. The non-tidal license allows you to fish in lakes, rivers, and streams.

To get access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and to be able to fish in the Atlantic you would have to ask for a ‘Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License.’

There are license-free fishing areas you can go fishing, but you have to register as a saltwater angler.


Gear for nontidal waters

Nontidal waters are considered those where the tidal range is less than 1 feet. This is the gear you are allowed to have on you when you go fishing in these waters and the corresponding regulations.

Bait traps must have a tag on them with the owner’s name, address, and license number. You can only use one, and you have to check it daily. It has to be within 100 feet from the owner and the shore, attached to a pier, dock or buoy.

You can use hook and line, rod, reel and handlines, but only three lines at a time and never for snagging. Regulations allow the use of 2 hooks per line. When you go ice fishing, 5 tip-ups is the maximum limit.  

Nets, including seines and dip nets, are also legal, but anglers are not allowed to bait them or use them in Trout Management Areas. Only landing nets can be used in such areas, to land a fish that has been caught by other means. According to regulations non-residents can only go fishing with a landing net.

Archery equipment, gigs, spears and spear guns can be part of your gear on condition that a retrieve line is attached to them. There are several species you can’t shoot with this equipment, like trout, walleye, striped bass, northern pike and black bass.


Gear for tidal waters

Besides the gear that you can use in nontidal waters, there are a few additional objects you can take with you and some restrictions that you need to keep in mind.

Even though you can use cast nets, their radius has to be up to 10 feet. Seine nets, on the other hand, have a size limit of 50 feet width and 5 feet height, unlike the small 6 feet per 4 feet nets used in nontidal waters. Their mesh still has to be ¼ of an inch.

You can use jugs in the tributaries of Chesapeake Bay from the beginning of July through the end of February. Fishermen and women are allowed a number of 10 jugs that must be attended during night time.

For archery equipment or spears, there is a 100 yards safety limit you have to observe, but you can receive permission to use it from those who could be affected.



In nontidal waters, the season is opened year-round for most species. Some exceptions are largemouth and smallmouth bass, with a closed season from March until mid-June. Mussels and clams, as well as herring and shad, have no open season.

Other season restrictions are affecting saltwater anglers. American eel can be caught from January through the end of August only by using spears or baited traps. The creel limit is 25 for all eels over 9 inches.

The season for black sea bass is closed twice a year. The first months of the year, from January through the 14th of May are closed season for this species, and so is the fall month beginning September 22 and ending October the 21st.

It’s also prohibited to fish chain pickerel from March 15th up to the last day in April. When fishing in open season, you can harvest 10 per day.



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